Academic journal article The Journal of Developing Areas

The Impact of Negative Work Home Interface on Intention to Leave and the Role of Flexible Working Arrangements in Malaysia

Academic journal article The Journal of Developing Areas

The Impact of Negative Work Home Interface on Intention to Leave and the Role of Flexible Working Arrangements in Malaysia

Article excerpt


As a developing country, Malaysia has a vision of transforming its economy to become progressive in the South East Asian region (the Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016 -2020; Vanderberg, 2008). However, as the Manpower Group Malaysia (2010) report, Malaysia has a smaller percentage (27%) of skilled workers than Singapore, Taiwan and Korea, so this shortage of skilled employees in the labor market might see employers placing greater demand on employees. These demands are likely to be detrimental to employees' work life balance (WLB). Recent changes in policies have seen the Malaysian government making efforts to provide better benefits in the workplace to attract the least utilized labor resources within government agencies. For instance, in the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, the private sector is encouraged to facilitate greater female participation in the labor market through provisions that take into account the multiple roles and responsibilities of women. These include new flexible working arrangements (FWA) such as teleworking, part-time work, job-sharing and home office settings for small businesses (Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006- 2010, p. 289).

In the Women's Summit Roundtable Report (2007), the Malaysia Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development identified FWA and WLB as among the main areas to be studied for policy-making and implementation. It is important to explore these specifically in the culturally distinct context of countries such as Malaysia as most previous studies related to FWA and WLB have been conducted using Western samples (e.g. Allen, 2001; Batt & Valcour, 2003; Poelman et. al., 2005; Bakker et. al., 2011). In particular, only 20% of work-family studies between 1980 and 2003used non-American samples outside the United States (Casper et. al., 2007), and even fewer were conducted in developing countries (Wickramasinghe & Jayabandu, 2007). Thus, it is crucial to understand the implications of FWA and WLB concerns in the Malaysian context.


Although several studies note that is important for employers to balance organizational needs and employees' personal needs (Batt & Valcour, 2003; Greenhaus et. al., 2003; Kalliath & Brough, 2008; Maertz & Boyar, 2011), the relationship between WLB and employee turnover has been treated at a relatively conceptual level. The empirical work on work-family conflict that has been conducted has generally examined antecedents related to health and job-related stress (Beham et. al., 2011; Lourel et. al., 2009; Janssen et. al., 2004). More developed concepts such as work-family facilitation, enhancement, enrichment, and work-home interaction are also slowly emerging (Bakker et. al, 2011; Chang et. al., 2010; Maertz & Boyar, 2011; Stephens & Grzywacz, 2014).

Furthermore, the limited number of studies in Malaysia have only looked at female employees (eg Ahmad & Omar, 2010; Subramaniam et. al., 2010; Subramaniam, 2011). We suggest therefore in the Malaysian context that it is crucial to conduct a general study for all employees, male and female, single or married, as WLB applies to all (Hyman et. al., 2005).

On the basis of their empirical work, De Cieri et al. (2005) suggested that the formation of appropriate WLB and human resource (HR) strategies will enable employers and employees to meet the emerging challenges related to the need to balance work and life. With this aim in mind, the present study investigates the largely assumed role of offering FWA to improve the retention of employees in situations where their work demands are damaging to their life (i.e. a negative work-life interface). Specifically, we ask whether the availability of, and adoption of, FWA reduces (moderates or mediates) respondents' reported intention to leave work, in the face of perceived negative work-home interface.

Research Hypotheses

H1: There is a significant relationship between negative work home interface (NWHI) and intention to leave (ITL) moderated by flexible working arrangements (FWA). …

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